Although the shutdown of Waterway Houseboats due to the company entering receivership on June 11 is by all accounts a major blow for Sicamous, local officials are optimistic that the area’s tourism sector remains strong and that the 51 employees who were laid off will find work.
“Sicamous is a very durable community, we’ll be fine, we’ll get through it at the end of the day,” said Mayor Terry Rysz.
Rysz noted there is major uncertainty about the whole situation at the moment but he was optimistic; he said he doesn’t think the matter is beyond resolution, adding that perhaps the company could be purchased by outside interests.
Rysz said his primary concern is for the welfare of the employees who lost their jobs and the private boat owners who contribute to Waterway’s fleet.
Although the shutdown of Waterway is a blow to the community, Rysz said Sicamous is still vibrant and open for business in the midst of its tourist season. He highlighted upcoming community events and the work Communities in Bloom is doing to improve the cosmetic look of Sicamous.
Rysz is hopeful that the Waterway employees who lost their jobs would be absorbed by other companies in the area.
Sheila Devost, executive director of the Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce, said the loss of jobs cannot be trivialized but there is opportunity locally for the displaced employees; she added Sicamous has historically experienced staff shortages during the busy summer tourist season.
Devost said both the remaining houseboat companies in Sicamous and other tourism businesses are making every effort to accommodate people whose vacations with Waterway were unexpectedly cancelled. Despite the loss of Waterway, she said that all of the other businesses frequented by tourists are still up and running, and vacation accommodations such as campsites and AirBnB’s are plentiful.
“It’s business as usual, Sicamous is still the houseboat capital of Canada,” Devost said.
A statement from the chamber of commerce states that the news about Waterway is particularly saddening because the houseboat company marked 50 years in business just last year. The statement pledged the community would rally around the staff who lost their jobs and provide as much support as possible.